(More) digital trends for 2021: Digital fitness, telemedicine, and food delivery emerge as a new triple threat

In December, we released our “10 Key Digital Trends for 2021” report, which contained major trends to watch for in the year ahead, from the rise of Disney as a streaming powerhouse, to the enactment of a federal privacy law, to the ascent of first-party data—and, more importantly, what these developments mean for marketers. But what else ought to be on your radar?

This is our second in a series of additional transformative developments that should be on your radar in 2021.

Read about the first runner-up, influencer- and user-generated content, in our recent article.

Digital fitness, telemedicine, and food delivery

In 2021, expect to see a convergence of content and commerce, led by the likes of Peloton, lululemon athletica, Nike, and Apple. Amazon and Google are getting into the act as well with Halo and Fitbit, respectively, in addition to emerging services offerings. Digital fitness will replace in-person venues such as gyms and will enable new levels of personalization that were previously either unavailable or unscalable.

“Digital fitness is an emerging megatrend, and not just because of the pandemic,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “The combination of increasingly sophisticated wearables, personalized health tracking, and integrated digital media experiences—all led by the most aspirational consumer brands—already pointed toward a reimagined consumer fitness landscape.

“The pandemic simply accelerated these trends as consumers adapted to fitness experiences without gyms as the focal point,” he said.

All of that digital fitness probably isn’t hurt by the growth of food delivery apps, which are making caloric intake easier than ever for many. Sales on US digital restaurant marketplaces such as DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats more than doubled over the past year, from $20.08 billion in 2019 to $44.94 billion in 2020, according to our latest estimates.

Boomers to drive adoption

This triple threat might see uptake by an unexpected cohort: baby boomers. Younger consumers may think boomers are altogether Luddites with respect to digital media, but that’s not completely true. After all, boomers are the ones who pioneered the home computer as a common household item and made email a standard mode of communication. That said, they have been notably slow to adopt more recent technologies, including innovations like smart home technology that could help them age in place.

In 2021, expect much larger numbers of these consumers to finally advance beyond Web 1.0, partly due to positive experiences with telemedicine during the pandemic giving them the push they needed. Another pandemic aftereffect: Boomers were already strongly averse to ending up in nursing homes, and the high death rates at those facilities amid the pandemic has only strengthened that feeling, making it all but certain boomers will work to master the technologies that help them stay fit and fed—and in their own homes.

Other than stellar growth figures, what does this trio of services have in common? Digital fitness, telemedicine, and food delivery apps will not only provide opportunities for marketers to reach their customers in new ways, but possibly require marketers to change the way they approach their target audiences as well.